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Romance at Disneyland

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I surprised my husband with an overnight romantic getaway at Disneyland for our wedding anniversary last summer. I felt a tad guilty visiting the Happiest Place on Earth without the kids, and I worried my husband would find our destination less than romantic. It wasn’t long, however, before I began to enjoy and understand why you should visit Disneyland for your next romantic getaway.

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Romance at Disneyland

Celebrating our 8th wedding anniversary at Disneyland

Simple Pleasures

My husband, Phil, and I started by touring all the rides normally off-limits with our toddler and preschooler. First we rode Space Mountain (my personal favorite), then the Matterhorn Bobsleds (with the “scary” Abominable Snowman) and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (the twisting mine train roller coaster). We practically ran from one site to another, holding hands like teenagers in love.

We searched for our photo snapped while aboard Space Mountain. My husband was grinning so wide in the picture that some other Disney-goers giggled and pointed at his expression. Phil told them, “That’s what I looked like in all my wedding photos – I was so happy.”

Phil and I paused between grown-up rides long enough to split a churro, which seemed like a glorious indulgence since my daughter is a churro-hog and usually I’m lucky if I get a couple of bites.

Then we hit the Haunted Mansion. A little boy around my daughter’s age almost broke my heart when he wailed, “No quiero!” as his parents carried the preschooler aboard the ride.

Wine-tasting at Disney's California Adventure Park

Wine-tasting at Disney’s California Adventure Park

Remembering Couplehood

After lunch at my favorite Disneyland buffet-service eatery, French Market Restaurant in New Orleans Square, we popped into Crystal d’Orleans, where the shopkeeper was etching a name into a glass mug. A woman in her late sixties asked me which of the two necklaces she should buy, the blue or the purple. We learned that she and her husband celebrate their anniversary at Disneyland every year – this year was their twenty-ninth. When we told them it was our anniversary, the husband said, “May you always be as happy together as you are today.” Phil and I smiled at each other, appreciating that our love was shining through – not clouded by the back-and-forth order-giving that often accompanies parenthood.

At the California Adventure Park we tasted a flight of three one-ounce white wines for $10 in the Golden State, an activity in which we’ve never been able to indulge with the kiddies in tow. We lingered for a while in the shade and rested our feet. It was so peaceful, so relaxing, so not like our usual family vacations of non-stop hustle, soothe, and wipe.

Phil had been looking forward to riding the huge roller coaster, California Screamin’ from the minute I told him our destination that morning. However, my balance was off from so many fast rides and a wee bit of wine. Instead, we made bets about who would be the best shot on the new Toy Story Mania, which is half-ride, half-carnival-game. Apparently I still owe him a massage.

Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel

Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel (Photo credit: Disney)

Romance at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel

We strolled across the street to our hotel to shower and ready for our “date night.” We stayed at the Paradise Pier Hotel, the least expensive of the three on-site Disney resorts. It has a fanciful beach-theme and all the charm you’d expect from Disney, with a slightly longer walking distance to the parks.

To help us celebrate our anniversary, the bubbly gal at check-in upgraded us from a standard room to one on the top floor with a view of the California Adventure Park. Room service also made us feel special by delivering two complimentary chocolate-dipped, Mickey-shaped crispy rice treats that afternoon.

Hand-harvested diver scallops at Napa Rose at the Grand Californian Resort

Hand-harvested diver scallops at Napa Rose at the Grand Californian Resort (Photo credit: Disney)

Napa Rose Chef’s Tasting Menu

I had made dinner reservations for the evening at the Chef’s Counter at Napa Rose, the upscale wine country cuisine restaurant located in Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel. We were seated practically inside the open kitchen, at a counter where we could see all of the action. Executive Chef Andrew Sutton asked our preferences – no artichokes and easy on the red meat for me – open season for Phil. Then he and his staff prepared a multi-course tasting menu for us that would leave the toughest food critic pleasantly stuffed.

It was supposed to be a four-course meal, but the chef surprised us with three additional mini courses. From the amuse bouche of pureed cantaloupe and honeydew with crispy prosciutto, to the tempura lobster salad served atop a bed of greens with coconut lemongrass dressing, each dish was a celebration unto itself.

To top off the meal, Pastry Chef Graciela Cordero served us not two, but three desserts because, as she said, “We take care of our guests at the counter.” The winning dessert was the crème brûlée in pastry crust served with fresh raspberries. Phil and I delighted in watching Graciela caramelize the sugar crystals into a sweet crispy lacquer with a mini blow torch.

We toasted our eight years of marriage and exchanged sappy anniversary cards. I gave him a pair of Mickey Mouse boxer shorts, purchased at the park earlier in the day. Neither of us had to walk the baby through the restaurant or worry about our children tossing crayons at the other diners. We talked, and listened, and even snuck in a smooch every now and then.

To top it all off, we were given a box of four chocolate truffles made on-site as a souvenir of our delectable meal. The meal was not cheap, but I highly recommend this unforgettable experience as splurge for a special occasion. To make reservations for the Chef’s Counter, call 714-300-7170.

A Romantic Stroll through Disneyland

Before heading back to the hotel, we ended the night with a romantic stroll through Disneyland to do one more thing we usually miss on family Disney trips due to an early kids’ curfew; take a peek at Sleeping Beauty’s Castle all lit up with pink, turquoise, and purple lights.

Why Disneyland for a Romantic Getaway?

Disneyland is the perfect place for children. Why, then, should you choose Disney for a romantic getaway? Because sometimes it’s nice to enjoy scary Disney rides, eat an uninterrupted meal in a nice restaurant, and do whatever makes YOU and your partner happy, without worrying about bed times and potty breaks. And, because visiting Disneyland without kids reminds you of how it feels to be a kid, rather than caring for kids.

Our Disney getaway provided exactly what we needed: connection, romance, and fun. What could be more romantic than that?

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Would you consider visiting Disneyland for a romantic getaway? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments!

A Note from The Travel Mama: We gained entrance to the Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure parks using our Annual Passes, for which we paid full-price. We did not receive any discounts on our hotel or dining due to my status as a travel writer. I will always let you know if I receive any sort of discount or complimentary goods or services related to a blog post.

About Colleen Lanin

Colleen Lanin is the founder/editor-in-chief of As the author of her book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents not only how to survive a trip with children, but also how to love exploring the world with their offspring. Her stories have appeared online and in print for such outlets as the "Today" show,, Parenting Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, Chicago Tribune, Expedia, San Diego Family Magazine, and more. Colleen gives tips on television, radio, and as a public speaker. She has a master’s degree in business administration with a background in marketing. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.

  1. My husband and I have talked about sneaking off to Disneyland without the kids before. I think it sound perfectly fun and feels liek you are getting away with something since you are sans kids.One of these days we will do it.

  2. Joan Grossfield says

    This one is my favorite. Without keeping the spark alive and doing things for each other, there IS no travel with the kids!! If only more couples could learn this! You could be responsible for alot of “Romance at Disneyland”!

  3. Sonia Saraf says

    Beautiful post Colleen… 🙂 Happy Anniversary!!

  4. Debra @ A Frugal Friend says

    Went to WDW before having our daughter two times….one for an anniversary. Loved it. Disney is so different without kiddos and very romantic. 🙂

  5. Brook Marolla says

    My husband and I will be celebrating our one year anniversary in July. We went to Disneyland together when we were dating, for our honeymoon, and my birthday. We both love Disney everything (especially me). We recently decided to spend our anniversary in Disneyland as well, especially since we may be getting stationed further away (with him being in the Military). Doing anniversary research for Disneyland is how I came across your blog. Thanks for posting this, it gave me more of an idea of what our trip will be like!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Brook – Happy anniversary! I am sure you and your husband will have a wonderful and romantic time celebrating together at Disneyland!

  6. Doug and Darlene Deyo says

    Tomorrow morning we board our flight to Disneyland ! We are celebrating our 33rd anniversary there. Disneyland is our “happy place”, where we can be kids again, fall in love again and just have fun! Our favorite place to dine is The Blue Bayou. It is where we always share our anniversary meal. We have celebrated several anniversaries at Disneyland and hope for several more. We’ll be the big kids with the anniversary buttons on in the park Wednesday and Thursday. See you there!


  1. Two Kids and a Map » Travel Blogger Tuesday – Travel Mamas says:

    […] Romance at Disneyland – This mama knows the importance of traveling as a couple and leaving the kids at home too! […]

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